Depressed and healthy preschoolers' internal representations of their mothers' caregiving: Associations with observed caregiving behaviors one year later

Andy C. Belden, Jill P. Sullivan, Joan L. Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined diagnostic group differences in children's internal representations of their mothers and mothers' parenting strategies 1 year later. Mother-preschool child dyads (N = 279) were examined. The sample included 151 healthy, 75 depressed, and 53 disruptive disordered preschoolers. The MacArthur Story Stem Battery (MSSB) was administered at baseline. One year later, mothers' caregiving strategies were measured. Results indicated that higher depression severity was associated with preschoolers' greater use of negative and disciplinarian maternal representations. More positive maternal representations had supportive mothers who often expressed positive affect 1 year later. Preschoolers' negative and disciplinarian representations were associated with mothers' later nonsupportive behaviors and negative affect. Results suggest that the MSSB may be a useful child-informant method for interpreting depressed children's internalization of caregiving relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Keywords

  • Child-informant
  • Childhood depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Preschoolers
  • Story stem responses

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